Common Council meeting highlights for 1-24-2017

Mayor signs ambulance service charter change

Mayor Michael Villa said Tuesday night that he has signed a charter change lifting the restriction on the fire department from running an ambulance service. The common council previously approved the change, however Villa was required to wait until after a public hearing, held before Tuesday’s council meeting, before signing the resolution.

During the public hearing, John “Chet” Watroba was the only member of the public who spoke. He said he was against the idea of the city running an ambulance service, and referenced a referendum in 2004 in which city voters approved the restriction by a 2 to 1 ratio. Watroba said if the matter was put to a vote now, he would vote the same way.

“I think the fire department is there to fight fires. If there’s no fire, I have no objections if they watch TV, play cards, eat…if there’s no fires. That’s what they get paid to do, fight fires,” said Watroba.

According to Fire Chief Michael Whitty, the fire department currently responds to approximately 1800 emergency medical calls per year, out of which 1620 require transport to the hospital. Without an ambulance of its own, the city has relied on GAVAC for transportation since 1966. City officials have reviewed estimates from several medical billing companies including MultiMed, which projected gross revenues of over $600,000 per year if the city were to operate its own ambulance.

GAVAC contract negotiated

The council approved a new contract between the city and GAVAC at Tuesday’s meeting. Under the contract, GAVAC will pay the city 32% of revenues associated with ambulance calls in the city through the end of the city’s fiscal year in June 2017. That figure is down from 38% for the previous fiscal year. In the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 fiscal years, the city’s contract with GAVAC brought in revenues of $159,037 and $187,189 respectively. The 2016/2017 budget projected $150,000 in revenue. According to Controller Matt Agresta, GAVAC has not yet remitted any revenue this fiscal year due to not having a contract. According to Mayor Michael Villa, GAVAC will pay retroactively on revenues starting at the beginning of the fiscal year, July 2016.

Reserves on two buildings set ahead of Saturday’s property auction

The council agreed to set minimum bids on two city-owned properties that will be auctioned off along with approximately 60 others this Saturday at 10am at City Hall.

A reserve price of $35,000 was set for the former Crystal Bar on Lyon Street. The facility is comprised of two separate properties which received bids from two different buyers at an auction held in October. The council later declined both bids and will auction the two properties together.

A large 36,000 square foot building on Park Street will start with a minimum bid of $20,000. The building was bid on by a buyer at October’s auction for a lesser amount, however the bid was later declined by the council.

“I think it was underbid,” said Mayor Michael Villa, “I think there were people missing out of that auction at that time.”

Bidders can register either in the morning on Saturday, January 28, before the 10am auction start time, or between 4pm-6pm at City Hall on January 27.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.